The First Experiment

At the next site council meeting, I asked if we could try an experiment with a group of students who might be interested in solving a problem. And, in this process, might we experiment with learning in a new way, one similar to how we learn in our agile-based companies?

Tech companies operate in hyper-competitive markets. The pressures to adapt and innovate are intense. In order to remain competitive, they must continually out-learn and out-innovate their competitors.

This market dynamic is very different from that faced by companies in an industrial economy. There, competitive advantage was based on improving the efficiency of the sourcing, production and distribution process, something called a value chain. Whoever manages that process most efficiently is able to drive costs down and gain market share.

Not in the tech world. The winners are defined by those who get new products to the market faster. Competitive advantage is defined by the rate of innovation. Tech companies don't focus on value chains but on Value Networks.

These market pressures force tech companies to explore how to learn faster – because the innovation is based on the speed with which they learn.

Tech companies understand that collaborative teams working with clear purpose and commitment are able to solve complex problems faster. This learning process is not structured and sequential, but asynchronous, using fast Learning Cycles.

A week later the teachers found the students for the experiment. I also found Gage, a software developer, who was interested in working with the students. We were ready to start. Now we had to find a problem.

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